Friday, January 22, 2021

Bairath (Viratnagar of the Mahabharata)

 In 1840, an Ashokan Edict was discovered by a Captain Burt at a Rajasthani town called Bairath (Viratnagar of the Mahabharata), some 80 km from Jaipur. The rock on which this edict was carved was extracted from it's parent rock and transported to The Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal in Calcutta, where it is still housed 180 years later. While most of the artefacts collected by this society during the British Raj have been handed over to the Calcutta Museum, this precious rock is still with them. 

This precious Ashokan Edict carved on a rock 2300 years back is Rajasthan's oldest epigraphic possession, making it all the more precious for the subject of its contents. It is a rare edict of the Emperor Ashoka where he directly addresses the monks, advising them on which passages of the Buddha's teachings to understand and commit to memory. Another copy of such an intimate suggestion from this Indian Emperor to the monastics does not exist, making it one of Rajasthan's most precious heirlooms. Unfortunately, inspite of there being a govt. ASI run museum at Bairath, dedicated to the excavations conducted there by the likes of the founder of the ASI, Sir Alexander Cunningham, this precious heirloom is still in Calcutta, and not at this dedicated museum. If within our own country we cannot restore artefacts back to their rightful origins, how can we ever expect foreign Govts. to restore to us the hundreds of stolen artefacts of national importance. Please sign my petition to the two involved agencies, the ASI  and the Asiatic Society, to do conduct the  necessary formalities and restore this precious artefact to the land of it's origin, thereby inspiring present and future generation of Rajasthanis.

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